Acta Phys. -Chim. Sin. ›› 2021, Vol. 37 ›› Issue (1): 2006021.doi: 10.3866/PKU.WHXB202006021

Special Issue: Lithium Metal Anodes

• REVIEW • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Challenges and Improvement Strategies Progress of Lithium Metal Anode

Fanfan Liu1, Zhiwen Zhang1, Shufen Ye1, Yu Yao1, Yan Yu1,2,*()   

  1. 1 Hefei National Laboratory for Physical Sciences at the Microscale, Department of Materials Science and Engineering, CAS Key Laboratory of Materials for Energy Conversion, University of Science and Technology of China, Hefei 230026, China
    2 Dalian National Laboratory for Clean Energy (DNL), Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), Dalian 116023, Liaoning Province, China
  • Received:2020-06-10 Accepted:2020-07-01 Published:2020-07-08
  • Contact: Yan Yu
  • About author:Yan Yu. Email:; Tel.: +86-551-63607179
  • Supported by:
    the National Key R & D Research Program of China(2018YFB0905400);the National Natural Science Foundation of China(51622210);the National Natural Science Foundation of China(51872277);the National Natural Science Foundation of China(U1910210);the Dalian National Laboratory for Clean Energy (DNL) Cooperation Fund, the CAS(DNL180310);the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities, China(Wk2060140026)


The Li metal anode is considered the most promising anode for next-generation high energy density batteries owing to its high theoretical capacity and low electrode potential. The development of batteries with high energy density is essential to meet the growing demand for energy storage devices in the modern world. However, the Li metal anode has operational problems. The high activity of Li causes dendritic growth during the cycling process, which leads to the cracking of the SEI (solid-electrolyte interphase), increased side reactions, and formation of dead Li. Furthermore, if the growth of Li dendrites is left uncontrolled, it can penetrate the separator and create a short-circuit accompanied by thermal runaway. Additionally, the complete utilization of active Li is challenged by the infinite volume expansion of the Li anode. To improve the application scope of Li metal batteries, it is imperative to develop advanced strategies for inhibiting Li dendritic growth, enhancing the stability of the SEI, reducing the accumulation of dead Li, and buffering the volume expansion. Understanding the mechanisms and models of Li nucleation and growth provides insight into solving these problems. This review summarizes some of the important models of Li nucleation and growth such as the surface nucleating model, charge-induced model, SEI model, and deposition/dissolution model. These models aid comprehension of the Li nucleation and growth process under various conditions. This review also discusses the strategies explored in the literature for improving the electrodes (such as three-dimensional (3D) matrix), electrolyte, SEI, and separator to realize uniform deposition of Li and improved utilization of Li. The 3D matrix strategy for improving the electrode design explores various matrices including graphene-based, carbon fiber-based, porous metal-based, and powder-based for buffering the volume expansion and reducing the local current density. To improve the electrolyte, concentrated lithium salts and functional additives are employed to stabilize the SEI and inhibit dendritic growth by regulating the chemical composition of SEI and inducing the deposition of Li. With respect to improving the design of the SEI, strategies for the construction of inorganic or organic components with high ionic conductivity and stable structure are explored for even distribution of Li ions and to avoid SEI rupture. This can reduce electrolyte consumption and dead Li formation. The modification of the separator by functional nanocarbon layer can control the direction of dendritic growth, thereby preventing the penetration of dendrites into the separator and achieving a uniform Li deposition layer. Finally, all solid state Li metal batteries (ASSLMBs) are discussed that utilize ceramic and polymer electrolytes owing to high safety of the solid state electrolyte. Therefore, reducing the interfacial resistance and suppressing dendritic growth between the Li anode and the electrolyte is key for the practical applications of ASSLMBs. Overall, this review provides a summary and outlook for promoting the practical applications of Li metal batteries.

Key words: Li metal anode, 3D matrix, Electrolyte, Additive, Artificial SEI, Li metal battery